Walter Camp: Football and the Modern Man

By Julie Des Jardins | Go to book overview

5
Necessary Roughness? 1894

WALLY WINTER HAD JUST ARRIVED at Yale when he decided to show up on the practice field on West Chapel Street and try to secure a place on the freshman eleven. He wanted a spot so badly that he spent nearly all his money on a canvas jacket, moleskin pants, stockings, and shoes for his day of reckoning on the practice field. Once he arrived, he was summoned to crouch opposite a larger, more seasoned upperclassman to show what he could do on the line. The older man made Winter’s lowly place in the pecking order known to him—very quickly—extinguishing his dreams of grandeur with a swift, unsolicited punch in the face. Such was the welcome given a freshman on his first day of practice.

Most recruits understood that, as unknowns, they demurred to senior men, but Winter did not. Rather than walk away, he gave his adversary an uppercut that nearly laid him out. Chappie Howland, the man in charge of the freshman candidates, reacted with fury and kicked Winter out of practice, shouting at the freshman to never show his face again. Winter lumbered off the field, dejected and stunned. Rather than take the streetcar, he walked back to campus alone to wallow in his failed attempt at athletic stardom. But that night, a janitor from Durfee Hall came to his door with a mysterious note. Winter was being summoned to the old New Haven House, to a room ominously known by upperclassmen as “117.” There, in the dark, men of the varsity eleven

-98-

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